Best of 2008

I know I am suppose to write this post before the year end, but with travel and children I ran out of time.

So, in no particular order here is what has happened and what rises above the rest when I think of 2008:

  • E started kindergarten and Z started preschool.
  • I posted my favorite business books of 2008 over on the 800-CEO-READ blog and worked with us on their selections.
  • Jack and I turned in the manuscript for The 100 Best Business Books of All Time in April. And we just got finished books today and they look great. The book hits shelves February 5th.
  • My 91 bookmarks remind of these yummy sites:
    • Spoonflower for custom fabrics based on your designs
    • Sticker Robot for custom stickers
    • Moo for business cards, holiday cards, and sticker books from your Flickr photos
  • We survived the snowiest winter on record in Waukesha. I think it was 109″.
  • That turned into a flooded basement after warm weather and some huge rains.
  • Mac Apps you should be using: NetNewsWire for RSS feeds, Ecto for blogging, VoodooPad for note taking, and possibly WriteRoom for a clutter-free writing space.
  • Mac Apps to consider: Things (I use to manage to-dos in BaseCamp, but I think I like this desktop/iPhone combo better) and TweetDeck (allows filtering, grouping, and searching all in one Tweeter app)
  • I posted 305 tweets this year. I would have never guessed that and TweetStats tells me I have been accelerating my use of Twitter.
  • Music that worked for me:
  • This American Life provided the best description of the credit crisis I heard, read or watched anywhere. Listen to The Giant Pool of Money. It is worth all 58 minutes. In second place is Michael Lewis’ Panic, an anthology of articles, reports, and missives on the bubbles we have gone through since 1989.

Apple Owner Must Read: Daring Fireball

If you own an Apple and are remotely interested in following the brand, Daring Fireball is a must read. It is a little bent toward the programmer set, but there is a lot to get out of the prolific John Gruber.

Case in point, this might be the best blog post title of 2007:

Yet Another in the Ongoing Series Wherein I Examine a Piece of Supposedly Serious Apple Analysis From a Major Media Outlet and Dissect Its Inaccuracies, Fabrications, and Exaggerations Point-by-Point, Despite the Fact That No Matter How Egregious the Inaccuracies / Fabrications / Exaggerations, Such Pieces Inevitably Lead to Accusations That I’m Some Sort of Knee-Jerk Shill Who Rails Against Anything ‘Anti-Apple’ Simply for the Sake of Defending Apple, and if I Love Apple So Much Why Don’t I Just Marry Them?

Think different.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

-Apple Computer

Check out Zaadz newsletters, this was from Philosopher’s Notes.

“Here Something I Got For You…”

No, it is not a C++ GUI programming guide.

For Mac users out there, check out MacSanta. Twenty-one software companies are having a Christmas Sale. When you use the coupon code MACSANTA, you get 20% off the standard price. The offer is good until 12/25/06. I use FlySketch and VoodooPad. My early holiday gifts look like they will be Fission and PackRat.

NetNewsWire (the best RSS reader for the Mac) is also available for 30% the normal price. Use NGHoliday when you check out and get $10 off.

Same Rules Do Not Apply and The 5% Rule?

Rogue Amoeba is a creator of Mac Software and are among a handful who create really good stuff.  One of their more popular products right now is AirFoil, that lets you send any type of audio from your computer to any audio system via Airport Express.  It was initially released for the Mac, and the lure of a much bigger installed base led them to write a version for Windows,

They wrote an interesting post on Thursday about their experience selling to the Windows market.  There are disclaimers all over the post about their limited data and beta release, yet they still draw conclusions.

Here are a couple of my responses:

  • There is a hive for Windows users.  200,000 downloads of Vista show that Windows is alive and well.
  • The software depends on you have an Airport Express.  How many Windows users are running out the down to get an AE?  The hardware adoption is going to drive sales.  I think their slightly higher conversion rate for the Windows version is geeks with multiple computers want to be able to stream from wherever they have audio.

I think there are equally as good questions in the comments of the post.

My comments are a little bigger than the conversion rate questions from the post.  RA wrote a follow-up on Friday and asked for others to talk about their conversion rate.  Unsanity,  The Little App Factory, and  Gaucho Software all provided more numbers. 

Something around 5% seems to be what all these companies are seeing.

Memory Upgrade the Mac Mini

My wife and I took on the project of upgrading the memory in her Mac Mini this week. She had been complaining that she was getting the pinwheel quite a bit and that she could only have one or two programs open at a time.

I think the main memory hog for her is iPhoto. She lives in that program and has over 2200 photo and almost 3GB of data. The rate of photo taking has only increased since September, so we needed to do something.

Her original machine came with 512MB and we decided to go to 1GB. We didn’t have a lot of choice in the matter, since there is only one memory slot and the maximum you can put in is 1GB. A trip to our local CompUSA got us the 1GB upgrade for $89.99 after rebate. Not bad.

The only difficult part of the upgrade is getting the case apart. MacWorld has a great tutorial for doing the upgrade. You want to take their advice on finding the thinnest putty knives you can. I got thinnest I could at Home Depot and still had to use a razor blade scraper to get the putty knives started on each side. Once we got the case it took about 3 minutes to complete the upgrade.

She is already reporting a much better experience since the upgrade.

Our next task is getting a backup drive. I think we are going to go with the LaCie mini 250GB. It will sit nicely underneath her Mini and connect via Firewire. We can both backup our computers there, as well as archive some data we don’t use much. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Ten Favorite TUAW posts

The Unofficial Apple Weblog is giving away a Ipod Nano. The only thing you have to do is post your 10 all-time favorite posts from TUAW. So, here we go:

  1. What are you listening to? – In this post, they asked everyone to look at their iTunes and post what their 5 most played songs were. This was great because it was community based, easy to do, and it was guaranteed to have accurate results (Here were my five).
  2. The New York Times on Mac Geniuses and the Halo Effect – This was a great summary post that highlighted some great facts about the Genius Bars. I would have missed this had you not highlighted it.
  3. Freeware February: Notational Velocity – I was watching every day for what new tools you could bring into my life. NV is wonderful and a integral part of my workflow now.
  4. More birthday tributes for Steve – PodBrix are way cool and you brought them into my world.
  5. MacDevCenter on 20 Cool Tiger Features – I was quick to upgrade to Tiger and mostly enjoyed Spotlight. This post showed me some other things I could appreciate by going to 10.4.
  6. Make NetNewsWire Sing – This is the second most important program on my computer after Mail. This was a great tip and helped with slowdowns I was getting.
  7. T-shirt bears quote from Jobs’ Standford Speech – This was great for two reasons – the shirt is hilarious and you guys have a link to video of Jobs’ speech (I didn’t know I could watch it).
  8. When was your Mac Born? – This was a cute post. For people who consider their Apple a part of their identity, it was a great way to become even more attached.
  9. iTunes 5 shuffle got more random – I was always on the side that they must have some special programming built into the shuffle. I know it wasn’t true, but it sure seemed like it. I found it really interesting to see them add it as a feature (and I saw it on TUAW first).
  10. How to Create a podcast with .Mac – I liked the possibility of no bandwidth charges with putting my files up on .Mac. But what is great about this post is it referred to a TUAW post the day before that I had missed. The topic was how Apple just put a cap on bandwidth. It pushed me to pursue other avenues.

To summarize, TUAW helps me see things that I don’t often have time to find myself.

Apple PowerBook Carrying Case

I had a short lived Typepad blog called The Switch. It’s purpose was to talk about all the challenges associated with going from PC to Apple.

I am shutting down my Typepad account, because I do everything in Movable Type and I haven’t updated any of the Typepad blogs I had in about six months.

One of the posts that generated alot of dicussion was around the best bag for your Powerbook. I wanted to capture here for posterity.

P.S. I went with the Tom Bihn Empire Builder and Brain Cell. Worth every penny.


This might seem like a trivial question, but I am going to be lugging the Powerbook around a lot.

I am not looking for a portable office, but rather something that can protect the Powerbook and have room for needed wires, a couple of files, and a notebook.

I was looking through the eBags website. I spent a lot of time reading the comments, but there weren’t a lot specific to Powerbooks.

Remember, I have the 15″ Powerbook G4.

What bags do you like?


ok todd, here’s a list I culled for you from MacWorld, Dec. 2003 of some very cool bags: – they have some nice ones at a good price. – ultra-customizable, very cool

Personally,I had a guy make me a custom sleeve, padded, with plastic inserts for rigidity, and surrounded in cordura. Closes with a big-ass piece of velcro. I throw it into a courier bag or back pack and it’s good to go. This way if I change bags I am not losing the protection – I have a 15″ powerbook, I think it cost me about $40cdn to have made. Hope this helps.

cheers – d.

Posted by: David | March 4, 2004 10:59 AM

All good choices

Not necessarily for Mac but cool fashion:

You will definitely want a wrap or pad that goes around the PB – the screens cost about 90% of cost of original to replace – no way to repair if it cracks.

Posted by: jbelkin | March 4, 2004 11:41 AM would be my choice.

Posted by: Mike Strock | March 4, 2004 12:14 PM

Take a look at Waterfield Designs:

I’ve got one of his cargo bags and it’s really nice, although it’s probably larger than what you’re looking for.

Posted by: Mark | March 4, 2004 02:35 PM

My two favorites are the Laptrap and the Moya by Incase–their site is being reworked, so you may have to use a search engine to look it over. Or try and look at the selection there.

Posted by: Bruce E. Durocher II | March 4, 2004 04:33 PM

For my $$$ Brenthaven.

Posted by: Jeffsters | March 4, 2004 06:57 PM

Zero Halliburton. There’s nothing better. I’ve had the same attache sized Zero for about 6 years now from my Wallstreet to Pismo to TiBook and it’s taken an incredible beating whithout transferring so much as a scratch to the PB within. They can be a bit on the pricey side, but they’re well worth it.

The Z and DZ lines seem to be the current computer offerings.

Posted by: deraven | March 4, 2004 06:59 PM

I use a sleeve (in my case, the extremely silly and stylish Crumpler School Hymn in silver leather) around the Powerbook, after which I toss it into a canvas briefcase that looks nothing like a laptop bag (mine is a Lands End square rigger). There’s plenty of room for all my other stuff as well and cables. I really do recommend choosing a bag that people don’t expect to have a laptop in it, but you must protect the Powerbook as well.

Posted by: Alison Scott | March 5, 2004 07:42 AM

Tom Bihn.
I’ve been through several others.
The Tom Bihn bags have a rigid padded shell that cradles the powerbook inside the bag. It appears to offer much more protection that padding alone. Construction is good, cost not out of line.

Posted by: Ian Lind | March 5, 2004 08:09 AM

Big vote for the incase bags. They’re sold at the Apple stores and online at They use this incredible fabric I’ve never seen anywhere else, and are sleeker than any other designs. I’ve been using one for my iBook for nearly three years, and it still looks and feels great. Good luck!

Posted by: Adam Bezark | March 5, 2004 08:41 AM

Try booq for good designs in the backpack/sling arena. Their sleeve cases are also quite good.

Waterfield makes good sleevecases; I’m not a fan of their designs.

If you want fashion, check out Jack Spade.

If you want pure functionality, go with Timbuk2 and their sleeves. Totally customizable.

For coolness, I’d check out Freitag:

The others seem hokey, and have no style.

-art director-with-bag-fetish

Posted by: reason | March 5, 2004 06:05 PM

just got a bag at willow…the best bag ever..shame they’re closing up shop…clearance prices are very good….

this is highly recommended

Posted by: dixon | March 5, 2004 07:21 PM

I use an InCase sleeve inside a California Pak bag. Total cost was less than $50 (bought the InCase used and CalPak new).

Posted by: e. | March 6, 2004 06:44 AM

I’ve been very pleased with the STM sport laptop backback. Its rugged but attractive, and has protected my 15″ PB through a few hard knocks. The Australian manufacturer is user-friendly and replaced for free a plastic buckle that was cracked by a slammed car door.

See picture:

Posted by: Paul Fox | March 7, 2004 07:45 AM

Trager have some great bags. Their Seattle Messenger started it all. They have a hard sleeve Transpod which fits a 15″ Powerbook and slips inside a satchell. They are well made and will go the distance.

Posted by: Mark Daley | May 10, 2004 01:51 AM

Check out

They have many, many reviews of laptop bags from more cos. than you can imagine. They also sell some of their samples.

Posted by: Chris Edwards | May 12, 2004 02:53 PM

Well, I like this one.

Posted by: anonymous | June 24, 2004 08:43 AM

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